Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Baram blockade rebuilt after being dismantled

7:10AM Oct 22, 2014
The blockade against the Baram Dam construction at kilometre 15 of Jalan Samling has been re-erected hours after it was dismantled by the authorities to access to loggers, locals claim.

According to protester Johannes Luhat, about 50 police and 10 Forestry Department personnel accompanied by logging company representatives dismantled the blockade to allow the loggers in.

However, the villagers manage to raise a new barricade and struck a deal with the Forestry Department to allow a three-day grace period before further action.

“We asked them who authorised them to dismantle the blockade, since the area is still under dispute and no court order was made to order us to lift our blockade,” Johannes said in a statement issued by local NGO Save Rivers.

However, he said, the authorities claimed that the blockade is illegal and that the loggers have the right to clear the area for the controversial Baram hydroelectric dam.

Johannes said that it is also illegal to log the land as it is native customary land belonging to the villages of Na’ah and Long Kesseh.

He said that reports have been lodged with the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over what the villagers believe is encroachment, but to no avail.

Hundreds of villagers have participated in the Baram Dam blockade since it first went up in October last year, against the building of the dam.

Indigenous Kenyah, Kayan and Penan people are blocking the main entry points to bar loggers and dam developer state-owned Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) from accessing the construction area.

The Baram dam is expected to generate 1,200 megawatts of power but critics argue that it will also displace 20,000 villagers and put 400 square kilometres of rainforest under water.

Responding to a protest on the same issue in Kuala Lumpur last month, SEB said that the move was part of a concerted effort to smear SEB and the government.

It added that the electricity from the dam will generate more development which in turn will help the community.

It also maintains that it has always treated local communities with respect and has provided adequate compensation.
~ Malaysiakini

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'Adenan's rural focus an admission of neglect'

3:41PM Oct 21, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem's pledge to focus  on rural development indicates that the rural areas have been neglected for the past 50 years, said Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.

"The truth (of neglect) is now admitted and conceded. At least this Chief Minister has the courage to admit," he said.

Adenan, who took over as CM in February, said that his administration planned to give this matter strong emphasis.

"It is high time we stop helping the rich and instead help the poor. It is high time we put emphasis on rural development," Adenan was quoted as saying in Miri yesterday.

Under the previous administration, the emphasis was on industrial development, timber industry and dam construction which activists argue did not benefit the rural people.

Speaking toMalaysiakini, Baru(right) said that Adenan’s speech is a "good starting point" but the most important thing is to translate that to action.

"Hopefully more allocation will be given to rural Sarawak," said Baru, who is the Ba'Kelalan assemblyperson.

'Show us the money'

Meanwhile, commenting on the same issue, DAP Serian chief Edward Andrew Luak said it is yet to be seen whether there will be emphasis on rural development as pledged by the Chief Minister.

"It has been decades that the BN government has promised rural development, but why is it that after 50 years of the formation of Malaysia rural development for Sarawak is till forthcoming?

"Road network to rural areas are still not much better than before, and many areas especially in the Baram and Rajang areas still depend on riverine transport," said Edward, who has served as development officer in Miri and Limbang.

He also questioned how the government intends to spur development in the rural areas in the absence of basic infrastructure.

Using helicopters would not only be very expensive, but very unpractical, he said.

Edward also questioned whether the state government will fund the rural development.

"If so, let us see how much will be approved in the next budget for rural development?

"Too often our leaders have been promising development projects when there is no allocation of funds approved.

"These are empty promises which the rural people just accept not knowing that they merely baits to garner support," he said.

He said that politics of development of the previous government failed to bring development to the rural areas.

"Instead it made the few rich richer and the majority poor poorer," said Edward, pointing out that even the chief minister agreed that this must stop.
~ Malaysiakini

‘RM300,000 to preserve endangered languages’

by Jonathan Chia, Posted on October 21, 2014, Tuesday

KUCHING: Sarawak is home to 44 living languages but five of them – Narum, Sihan, Lahanan, Bukitan and Seru – have been categorised as ‘endangered languages’ and will face extinction if they are not preserved.
Abang Johari hitting the ‘gong’ to mark the start of IALP2014, as (from left) Unimas deputy vice chancellor for research and innovation Prof Dr Kopli Bujang, Li and Mohamad Kadim look on.
In an effort to preserve the five endangered languages, Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state government had allocated RM300,000 to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to conduct research on documentation of the indigenous languages.

He said these languages were slowly dying out due to the influence of predominant languages such as Bahasa Malaysia and English, especially in urban areas, in view of their respective status as national and international languages.

“I mentioned about these languages, as well as the Penan (language). A lot of them are very much synonymous with the ethnic groups,” he told a press conference after officiating at the International Conference on Asian Language Processing 2014 (IALP2014) here yesterday.

The event was organised by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Chinese and Oriental Languages Information Processing Society (Colips).

Abang Johari said language researchers would need to reach out to these ethnic groups, who reside in the interiors of the state, and make use of the latest technology to build vocabulary or storage of these endangered languages before they became extinct.

“It is for this reason that an event such as IALP is important as a platform for sharing and discussing research on Asian language processing.

“I also believe that this is the right time for researchers to collaborate with local and foreign institutions of higher learning as well as stakeholders, in preserving and revitalising these local dialects and cultural heritage for our future generation.”

Meanwhile, Unimas vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the university has a Centre for Language Studies, where local and Asian languages are being taught.

“Recently, a new and unique programme has been created, allowing students to study Iban, Bidayuh and Melanau languages as part of their degree programme, covering the linguistics perspective.

“We also have the Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations (Isiti), and a research group, Sarawak Language Technology (SaLT) at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology – both dedicated to study and preserve the unique cultures as well as the indigenous languages of Sarawak, researching from social and IT perspectives.”

Mohamad Kadim said the addition of Malay, as well as other regional languages such as Khmer, Cebuano, Hmong, Javanese, Marathi, Mongolian, Nepali and Punjabi to Google Translate had indicated that Asian languages were of interest.

“They are now part of the growing online communities. This means that as a researcher, you should continue your current work in processing Asian languages, as in the near future, all Asian languages will be known, studied and used by the world.”

Among those present at the event were IALP2014 co-chair Prof Dr Alvin Yeo Wee and Associate Prof Dr Bali Ranaivo-Malacon, Colips president Dr Li Haizhou as well as distinguished speakers from Universiti Malaya Prof Emeritus, Datuk Dr Asmah Omar, and from Soochow University China, Prof Dr Min Zhang.

Read more:

CM expects illegal logging in the state to be curbed

by Philip Kiew, Posted on October 21, 2014, Tuesday

MIRI: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said he expected enforcement officers and others entrusted to curb illegal logging in the state to discharge their duties well.
Adenan, flanked by Morshidi (on his right) and Lee, fielding questions at the press conference.
Invited guests and the enforcement officers at the integrity seminar.
“Until illegal logging or felling is tackled, I will not issue any more new timber licences,” he told reporters after opening the 3rd Civil Service Integrity Seminar here yesterday.

The 554 enforcement officers attending the seminar are from the Forest Department, Land and Survey Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, local government, government statutory bodies, police, Sarawak Palm Oil Plantation Owners Association, and Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

Adenan, also Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, said illegal logging had even occurred at the Meludam National Park in Sebuyau and Bukit Tiban in Bintulu.

“Forest officers would be armed, and I expect results. Enough is enough. More of the same is not acceptable,” he said, adding that this illegal activity was affecting the state’s coffer.

He also warned timber licensees not to log outside their designated areas.

“Timber licensees must keep logging to within their own area and not `raid’ other areas.”

On another matter, Adenan said the state would be creating more national parks to bring the tally to one million hectares. Currently, the gazetted area spans 800,000 hectares.

“We are confident this can be done. Our target is 10 per cent of the state’s land mass to be under national park and wildlife sanctuaries.”

He did not say how many more national parks would be created, but Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg did mention last June that six new national parks were in the offing.

Adenan said the process to create new national parks would include a three-month consultation period with the stakeholders.

Sarawak has one of most extensive protected forests in the country. It boasts 30 national parks, six wildlife sanctuaries, and eight nature reserves, covering a total of 799,627.70 hectares.

About 15 totally protected areas are currently opened to the public. These parks and nature reserves showcase the state’s natural heritage and act as key attractions for the state’s tourism industry.

Also present at the seminar were State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani, Assistant Minister of Communication Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagan and Federal Secretary to Sarawak Datuk Md Yahaya Basimin.

Read more:

12,000 Bangladeshis to be recruited to work in Sarawak

7:17PM Oct 20, 2014
By Bernama
Some 12,000 Bangladeshi workers will be recruited to work at various sectors in Sarawak, said Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia AKM Atiqur Rahman.

He said this followed a request from Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister Richard Riot to the Bangladesh Government to send 12,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers to work at the various sectors in Sarawak, during his recent visit to Bangladesh.

“The request will be finalised during a meeting between Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Sarawak government on Nov 5 in Kuala Lumpur,” he told a press conference in Kuching today.

Atiqur said at the moment, there were about 5,000 Bangladeshi workers in various sectors of the state, particularly in plantation and construction.

Meanwhile, Atiqur urged Bangladeshis working in the state to apply for a machine readable passport (MRP).

He said there was a need for them to apply for MRP because according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines, no international travel would be allowed using a hand-written passport beyond March 31, next year.

He said this at the launch of enrolment for passports through outsourcing in Kuching today.

In a related development, an employment agent has warned the state government to thoroughly check the background of Bangladeshi workers.

Triple Star Alliance Sdn Bhd executive chairperson Zainalabidin Zakaria said he had been in the business for almost 20 years, claimed that there were cases of workers having criminal records at their home country while others were afflicted with infectious diseases.
~ Malaysiakini

Parliament needs an overhaul, say leaders

11:42AM Oct 21, 2014
By Susan Loone
Former deputy higher education minister Saifuddin Abdullah has proposed that Parliament be reformed to ensure real public consultation before bills are tabled and passed in the August House.

He said MPs, including those from BN, were hardly briefed about new laws proposed or existing ones put up for amendments.

He recalled only about two instances when there were public consultation - one being the 1988 Domestic Violence Act where there was a discussion between the minister and women NGOs before the bill was tabled in Parliament.

“For example, we missed the passing of the amendments to Section 114A of the 1950 Evidence Act,” said the former Umno Temerloh MP.

Others who missed it were senator Gan Ping Sieu and Youths and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Saifuddin said.

“We only realised it the next morning when the Pakatan Rakyat MPs were talking high and low about it,” he told the 40-member audience at a forum, who were mostly youths.

Saifuddin (left) proposed that Parliament have a proper and official guideline to ensure a participatory law-making process which includes stakeholders.

He cited the example of Denmark where the public can scrutinise the draft of the bills online, including its budgetary concerns, and provide feedback before a minister presents it in Parliament.

Saifuddin was accompanied by DAP’s Selangor speaker Hannah Yeoh and Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong, and PKR’s Subang MP R Sivarasa at the three-hour forum entitled ‘Legislative Reforms’.

Penang Suaram coordinator Ong Jing Cheng moderated the event held at the Karpal Singh Learning Centre and organised by the Youth Parliament.

Liew said Parliament cannot carry out its functions properly like hold civil servants accountable and monitor government spending as it sits only for about 50 days  - during this year and last year, a reduction of 20 days from previous years.

He proposed a 30-minute question time for the prime minister to quickly answer arising issues raised by the opposition as is practised in the UK.

“For important issues like defence, prepare a white paper and lay down the real threat - which is no longer at the Straits of Malacca, Singapore or Thailand but in the South China Sea - for all to see,” he said.

“The discussion on military spending, for example, which submarines to buy, and why do we need them, needs to be open to all,” he added.

‘Set up panels to monitor ministry work’

Sivarasa said the country can emulate Jakarta’s example of setting up commissions to monitor or discuss ministry or government department work before any related policies or laws are tabled.

He proposed that the chairperson of the commission could come from the government or opposition MPs and the number of people in the commission should reflect the composition of the August House.

“Like the select committee, the commission can summon any person or file to be investigated for public interest,” he said.

Hannah (right), the first woman speaker in the country, said Selangor will be amending its standing orders to allow the state opposition leader (Umno’s Shamsudin Lias) to head a select committee.

She said he has rejected the offer as BN may feel pressured to do the same for parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament.

“But once we amend the standing order on this he has to accept the offer or resign, as the state opposition leader has to head the committee,” she added.
~ Malaysiakini

One step forward for Indonesia, 2 steps back for Malaysia, says Aussie paper

Published: 21 October 2014
PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli (second right) and members of the PKR delegation are seen with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (centre) and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon (left). – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 21, 2014.

PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli (second right) and members of the PKR delegation are seen with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (centre) and South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon (left). – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 21, 2014.
As Indonesia welcomes its seventh president, an Australian newspaper has highlighted the difference between President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Malaysia under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Hailing Jokowi’s installation as one step forward for democracy, Malaysia, The Sydney Morning Herald said today, was in contrast moving backwards as it adopts an authoritarian stance.
The Australian daily’s political and international editor, Peter Hatcher, said Malaysia was going all out “to destroy a man most Malaysians chose as their leader” in reference to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Hatcher said Malaysia’s regressive democracy was illustrated in next week’s “sham trial” of Anwar.
“Indonesia inaugurates the man that most voters chose to be leader, while Malaysia concludes a sham trial to destroy the man that most voters chose to be leader,” wrote Hatcher.

“Indonesia is conducting the first transfer of power from one directly elected president to another. And Malaysia? It remains under the control of the same party that has ruled continuously since independence in 1957.”
Hatcher said Anwar was a “victim” of Barisan Nasional, which was afraid of the fact that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) had managed to win 51% of the popular vote in last year’s general election.
“The result scared the government of Najib into reviving its favoured tactic for repressing Anwar: the charge of sodomy.”
He said Putrajaya’s “manic determination to get Anwar” was illustrated by the appointment of Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah as deputy public prosecutor in Anwar’s sodomy trial.
Anwar had first challenged the legality of Shafee's appointment under the Criminal Procedure Code but his challenge was dismissed by the Federal Court on November 20 last year.
His second application to disqualify Shafee, based on a statutory declaration by former Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim, was also dismissed by the Federal Court on February 11.
On March 7, the Court of Appeal overturned the January 9, 2012 High Court decision in acquitting Anwar on a charge of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
He allegedly committed the offence at a unit of the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara, between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.
A three-member Court of Appeal bench sentenced Anwar to five years' jail, but granted him a stay on the sentence pending his appeal to the Federal Court.
Anwar was released on an RM10,000 bail in one surety.
Hatcher noted that Putrajaya’s political persecution was not limited to Anwar alone, with many political activists and opponents facing charges or under investigation under the Sedition Act 1948.
Among those who have fallen into the sedition dragnet are PKR vice-president N. Surendran, who was charged twice with sedition, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer, Sabah politician David Orok, Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharom and preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussein.
Hatcher also cited PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli as an example.
Rafizi is currently visiting Australia and risks three years’ jail for breaching bank secrecy laws in disclosing the National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd scandal which involved a former minister.
Earlier today, Rafizi and his PKR entourage who are on a week-long visit to Australia, met Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and discussed Anwar's upcoming trial as well as Putrajaya's use of the Sedition Act.
Accompanying Rafizi were Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin and Semambu state assemblyman Lee Chean Chung, who met Bishop at the Parliament House in Canberra.
In a statement, Rafizi said among the issues discussed with Bishop was how Putrajaya had been using racial issues as a political tool in recent months.
"The meeting with Bishop, who is also the deputy Liberal party chairman, the ruling party in Australia, went quite well as we covered several issues," Rafizi said.
“We also discussed Anwar's upcoming appeal against his sodomy conviction which will be heard by the Federal Court.”
Besides holding the meeting with Bishop, Rafizi said the PKR delegation also issued a joint statement with South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon.
"The joint statement was released to the media in the lobby of Parliament House and covered the latest developments in Malaysia," he said.
Rafizi said the PKR delegation also met with other Australian MPs and foreign embassies to give a briefing on the latest issues in Malaysia.
The PKR delegation is expected to wrap up their working visit today by meeting with Senator Gavin Marshall, the deputy president of the Australian Senate.
"PKR will continue to send delegations abroad to bring the irresponsible actions of BN to the attention of the global community," Rafizi said.
Besides meeting members of the Australian government, the PKR delegation also participated in a series of open forums in major cities around the country.
The forums were organised by Malaysian students studying in Australia and Rafizi expressed confidence they would be able to give a true portrayal of what was going on in Malaysia. – October 21, 2014.
- See more at: